You get to a certain age.... you start to reflect on the people you've known in life that mattered.
Those relatives and friends that made a difference in your life as you grew up. Many of them were aunts, uncles, cousins, those who at one time or another were secondary to parents, grandparents and best friends. Sure we always take our siblings for granted... (unfortunately), but I am referring to the significant few in life that influenced our values, beliefs and emotional / spiritual way of thinking and feeling.
There comes that time as we mature when we reflect on the "roots" of our existence. For some of us that realization comes after that special person or people pass on. If we are lucky, really lucky we appreciate where we came from and those that contributed to who and what we have become in this life and see the opportunity to reach out and acknowledge them for the part they played in your life. It may not be all hugs and kisses, maybe a phone call or a couples hours over coffee that we offer a personalized "thanks for being part of my life". Maybe that ultimate phrase of , "I love you", says it all!
For some of us this time of acknowledgement occurs after their passing, but we know in our hearts and souls that the spirit and energy that made up who that person was, well for me at least, exists in the universe forever. We can say a silent prayer or speak to our fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends that have passed before us, but how cool it is to be able to share the thankfulness and gratitude in person... thus one of the missions of this leg of our journey. To offer a personalized thanks and honor to those that we love.
As shared in the last post, we saw Jeannie spreading her father's ashes among the hilltops of the raw and rugged badlands of North Dakota. She and family also wanted his ashes spread back at his childhood homeland, in the cemetery where his "McKenzie" family were also laid to rest. This lil cemetery, "Silent Hill" is located a few miles north of Aneta, ND. Aneta is west of Grand Forks and several dozen miles south of the US/Canada border. We rolled into the village of Aneta mid day. Jeannie knew she had a cousins still living in the area, but without a directory we knew this was going to be a challenge. First stop the US Post Office. Know Aneta is a village of @ 201 people, and we thought the postmaster just might know where we could find Jim and Evie, Jeannie's cousins. it didn't take more than a hi / howdy to learn of where the here family lived, but also direction to the cemetery. We were famished, having not had breakfast as we drove north from I-94 through the small rails towns of Luverne and McKenzie (coincidentally Jeannie's mom's name as well as Jeannie's maiden name). We rolled up to the only café in town, it closed at 2:00pm, it was 2:02 and the shop was locked up tight. We parked near the weathered tennis court in the small park and snarfed down a tasty breakfast burrito Jeannie made from scratch.
It was a cloudy, blustery day with gusty winds and what we thought was wind chill in the teens. No matter, we drove to Silent Hill and located the "McKenzie" clan. Bundled up and with dad's ashes in hands, Jeannie spread the remaining ashes she had among the family.
Jeannie and family have been working hard to compile chronological and hierarchal lists of family. The visit and recording of the "whos" and "whens" was going to be a great boost to building a solid genealogical chart. We drove back to Aetna in hopes of connecting with her cousins. Following the direction the postmaster gave us we drove directly to Jim and Evie's home, just as we pulled in, so did they and with Jeannie holding a yellow writing tablet in hand, Jim thought we were there to sell some product. It didn't take dynamic, outgoing Jeannie but a hug and to expound a few memories for them to know she was the real deal, the woman they last saw as a little girl 50+ years ago.
We were graciously invited into their home where just as you'd expect we spent a fast paced two hours sharing photos and stories about family from over the years. We saw photos and documents from the 1800s, many of which Jeannie snapped up in photos. After our visit in their home Jim led us out to the farm where Bob, Jeannie father spend many years w/ grandparents.
We traded emails and addresses so as to stay in touch.